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Question #41456 posted on 12/17/2007 3:01 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Does law enforcement have a specific policy regarding bad weather speed? I remember way back when I was going through the whole getting-my-driver-license thing, I was taught someting to the extent of "only driving as fast as weather permits." So, what happens if my definition of weather permitting is different from that of any given law enforcement individual I happen to pass?

Buggy, who's mystified by the possibility of getting a speeding ticket for doing "60 in a 65"

A: Dear Buggy ~

From my own personal experience, you will not get pulled over for going too fast for conditions. However, you can get ticketed for it. I have been in two major car wrecks. Both of which were technically my fault, but I couldn't have done anything about them. (I didn't choose to spin across the divided highway in several inches of slush surrounded by traffic. Nor could I help that traffic suddenly... stops. at 12300 S.) Because I was technically at fault, I received the ticket. But in both instances, the very nice police officer admitted that there was nothing I could have done and thus, what do they ticket me for? Both times—too fast for conditions. Oddly, the first one that I really had zero choice, I got a ticket for. The second one, where it could be said that I could have given more room to the guy in front of me or been more aware of traffic, I only got a warning. Maybe it was because I definitely cried more at the second one...

If conditions are bad, (i.e., snow, rain, wind, heavy traffic, etc.) you should slow down. Even if the speed limit is 65, it's ok to only go 60. Or even 50! [gasp!] However, if you choose to go 65, you're probably fine, so long as you aren't being obviously hazardous. (i.e., everyone around you is going 40, you're sliding between lanes, you're fishtailing, you cut off everyone you pass, etc.) Just know, if you cause a wreck, you can and probably will get ticketed for it.

~ Dragon Lady
A: Dear Buggy,

I'll add a bit to Dragon Lady's response. If you end up losing control of your vehicle when driving conditions are bad, then you were going too fast for conditions. It's not a matter of a specific speed guideline; it's just that they expect you to do whatever is necessary to maintain control of your vehicle. Like Dragon Lady said, it seems like you're usually cited only after you've already lost control.

—Laser Jock